Huckabee's Heresies

The following passage from George Will's anti-Huckabee broadside is less outrageous than his "blood libel" riff, but not all that much more persuasive:

Huckabee's campaign actually is what Rudy Giuliani's candidacy is misdescribed as being -- a comprehensive apostasy against core Republican beliefs. Giuliani departs from recent Republican stances regarding two issues -- abortion and the recognition by the law of same-sex couples.

Huckabee's radical candidacy broadly repudiates core Republican policies such as free trade, low taxes, the essential legitimacy of America's corporate entities and the market system allocating wealth and opportunity.

If Will can point me to examples of Huckabee-the-candidate actually repudiating any of these "core Republican policies," I'd be grateful. As governor of Arkansas, Huckabee raised taxes: This is true. As a candidate for President, however, he has campaigned as a tax cutter, taking Grover Norquist's gimmicky "no new taxes" pledge (which Rudy hasn't, incidentally) and proposing a tax reform that, while deeply foolish, is perfectly consonant with low-tax orthodoxy. His "repudiation" of free trade, so far as I can tell, consists of vague calls for the U.S. to get tougher in trade negotiations and a misguided use of the lefty term-of-art "fair trade". He isn't on the record opposing any free trade deals; in my interview with him, he mentioned the passage of NAFTA as one of Bill Clinton's biggest accomplishments; and even the anti-Huckabee Club for Growth has described his gubernatorial record on trade as "limited, but positive."

As for whether Huckabee has questioned the "essential legitimacy of America's corporate entities" - well, presumably this is the sort of thing Will has in mind:

I can see why Will wouldn't much care for this sort of rhetoric, but note that Huckabee explicitly says, while criticizing outsourcing and skyrocketing CEO pay, that "I'm not expecting government to fix it"; rather, he seems to be making the moral point that America's corporate entities should recognize obligations to their employees and communities as well as to their shareholders and bottom lines. This strikes me as a perfectly reasonable way for conservative politicians to address the thorny issue of corporate excess - by scolding, rather than regulating. Will obviously disagrees, which is fair enough. But to suggest that criticizing specific instances of corporate behavior, while disavowing regulation of corporate conduct, is the same as questioning the legitimacy of America's corporations - or the "market system" as a whole - is just ridiculous, and unworthy of a writer of Will's intelligence.

I have to say, it would be a lot easier for my substantial Huckaskepticism to harden into outright opposition to his candidacy if his critics didn't seem quite so bent on turning their anti-Huckabee sentiments into an ideological witch hunt.